The Newsleter of the Association of Library & Information Science Students (ALISS)

The Silverfish is published monthly by the students of the Information School at the University of Washington.

The Logo of the University of Washington Information School

About The Silverfish
Current Issue
Editorial Board
Information for Authors

Book seal.

Reference Book Review: Betz A. (1998). Scholastic Treasury of Quotations for Children. Scholastic Inc: ISBN 0590271466
By Lisa Fraser
November 19, 2002

"I quote others to better express myself." - Michel de Montaigne

So begins the Scholastic Treasury of Quotations for Children. This work presents an ambitious goal to "create a balanced collection that includes quotations that state a clear and direct message; presents a variety of opinions and viewpoints within each topic; reflects the knowledge and experiences of experts…that reflect the wisdom of diverse cultures and experiences." Betz has achieved this goal with a combination of content and format that will appeal to children in the fourth through seventh grades. It is an interesting and valuable addition to the elementary or middle school library.

The most commonly known books of quotations are written for adults. While these works may be interesting to the young reader, the supplementary information provided in the Scholastic Treasury of Quotations for Children provides a deeper opportunity for learning. The thorough introduction includes a history of collections of quotations, tips for using quotations in writing and speech, an overview of the use of the book, and information on the sources of the quotations included.

The quotations are listed by topic, unlike other collections that are listed chronologically or by author. This systematic method of organization allows a child to compare different views on the same subject and to find a phrase that speaks to his/her own situation. Interspersed with the sections are more in-depth treatments of particular ideas or people, set apart from the lists in shaded boxes. For example, one such entry presents the "Golden Rule" through quotations from major figures in philosophy and religion. Others present Thomas Jefferson's words on government and excerpts from Rachel Carson's books on nature and the environment.

A biographical index follows the topical lists of quotations. This index occupies approximately a third of the book. Each entry provides the lifespan of the individual, a short description of his/her accomplishments, and the topics on which he/she is quoted. Entries are cross-referenced to reflect spelling variations and pseudonyms. This structure allows users to find quotations from a particular person with ease.

The topic areas are those that children are likely to encounter in their schoolwork and everyday life. They range from sports to music to human nature to prejudice. Betz has included an array of ideas and viewpoints within each topic, with most sections containing 10-12 entries. The shortest section, on exceptions, contains only one quotation. The segment on war includes 19 quotations and a supplemental entry explaining some famous war slogans. This topic contains "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, and the brave." (Patrick Henry), as well as "War is not just a victory or loss….People die." (Maya Lin). This diversity of opinion is typical throughout the book.

Quotations are included from contemporary and historical figures in politics, sports, the arts, business, the media, education, philosophy and science, among others. In addition, there are selections from organizations (Alcoholics Anonymous and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and fictional characters (Mother Goose, Miss Piggy and Popeye). With only 1200 entries, this work does not present the volume of quotations that the standard references include. This does not detract from its usefulness to the audience for which it is intended.

Children will enjoy the quotations in this work. Most are simple and direct. Betz has included some more ambiguous selections along with explanations of their meanings. The introduction, however, was written at a level beyond that of the average 12-year-old. Children will need adult assistance to use this resource most successfully.

The quotations selected for the book represent diverse cultures, but some receive more thorough coverage than others. A tally of the biographical index reveals that more than half of the individuals included are white North American or British citizens; another fifth are European, including the usual Greek and Roman scholars and philosophers. The remaining entries represent persons of color from the U.S., and people from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia. The collection includes proverbs from many countries, increasing the number of under-represented cultures.

Women make up just under a quarter of the individuals selected. Betz attempts to make up for this inequity by profiling women in several sections. These profiles include Sojourner Truth, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Quotations from women are found in every topic, giving the impression that women are well-represented.

Selections are included from the major figures and important works of several religious traditions. The Bible is the most frequently cited source. Muhammed, Lao-Tse and Buddha are also included, and the biographical selections on these people provide an introduction to the faiths that they represent.

As a former children's librarian, Betz has a clear understanding of the need for diverse role models for children. The intention of creating a collection with diversity is clear, and she made an effort to overcome the scarcity of material in traditional sources. She cites The Whole World Book of Quotations, The New Quotable Woman, The Encyclopedia of Religion and My Soul Looks Back, 'Less I Forget: A Collection of Quotations by People of Color' as sources of material for this book. In addition, material in this book was verified using Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and several other reputable sources.

"What is well said by another is mine." (Lucius Annaeus Seneca). In spite of the intention to educate young people on the use of others' ideas, there is no mention of the need to attribute those ideas to the originator. This would have been a natural venue to introduce the concept of plagiarism, since these snippets are so clearly the words of others. Betz misses an opportunity to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate use of the material in the book. It will fall to the teacher or librarian to broach this topic.

Scholastic is known for its focus on books for children, and the company also publishes dictionaries, encyclopedias and atlases for this audience. The Scholastic Treasury of Quotations for Children is targeted to children nine to 12 years of age. The quotations have a timeless quality that will remain current for many years. It is a sturdy book that will withstand regular use. This book is well worth the $16.95 price as an easily accessible introduction to important thinkers from a wide range of cultures and time periods. Every child will be able to find a voice in this collection.

Submissions Requested

Are you interested in sharing your knowledge with the rest of the student body? Have you attended any conferences or taken an interesting or worthwhile class outside of the department? Would you care to review nearby bars for us? Send your Silverfish submissions to

Edited by Michael Harkovitch

Silverfish Web Design by John W.N. Buell